The People That Time Forgot (1977) – movie review

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The People That Time Forgot (1977)

Amicus Films
Directed by Kevin Conner

Starring:
Patrick Wayne
Doug McClure
Sarah Douglas
Dana Gillespie
Thorley Walters
Shane Rimmer

This is the sequel to The Land that Time Forgot. Overall it is a step down from its predecessor but there’s some exciting dino-interaction scenes, especially early on. The script, plot, and story is sub-par even for a dinosaur/action adventure film. It was directed by Kevin Conner as were all the E.R. Burroughs Films done by Amicus (and AIP).

Ben McBride (Patrick Wayne) sets out on a mission to rescue Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure) from the mysterious land of Caprona, where he was the people that time forgot dvdabandoned in the first film. Their plane is downed by a pterodactyl and the gunman/ mechanic is tasked with fixing the plane while the rest of the rescue team searches for Tyler. They meet a cave woman who had learned English from Tyler and she leads them to a race of more advanced warriors who are holding Tyler captive. Naturally the team sets Tyler free, a volcano erupts (because that’s how all dinosaur films end) and the team escapes. There is some fun sparing between the male team members and a female photographer, Charly (Sarah Douglass) early in the film. The cave woman, Ajor, (Dana Gillespie) provides some eye candy, with a bursting bust-line and big hair.

The main scene that makes the film worth watching is the pterodactyl fighting the plane. It is much like a dog-fight in war films and makes for an outstanding action sequence. It goes on for a bit of time and is wonderfully choreographed. The film goes downhill after that, but it’s occasionally bolstered by a funky looking Stegosaurus, some cave monsters, and some sword and sorcery type hand to hand combat. There were a couple of Ceratosaurus, but truthfully I made better looking dinosaurs as a kid from playing with my mashed potatoes at dinner. A few of the creatures in the skull caves looked like repainted monsters leftover from At the Earths Core. The film doesn’t give much credit for the dino effects, but I’m quite sure they didn’t use Roger Dicken who crafted some impressive looking puppets in the first film. Ironically Tyler dies after they rescue him which kind of makes the whole film feel redundant. Amicus Films actually closed before the film came out, but AIP, the distributor, went ahead with the release.

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Fun Facts:

Dana Gillespie was primarily a singer whose teen single was produced by Jimmy Page, did folk music thru the 1970s, sang back up vocals on David Bowie’s, Ziggy Stardust album, and starred in the London Palace Theater’s Production of Jesus Christ Super Star. She finally settled into the blues genre and has over 25 albums to her name including her most recent, Cat’s Meow in 2014. Every year she runs a Blues Festival in the Caribbean that attracts name musicians from all over the world.

The Land That Time Forgot review
See more Amicus Films reviews at the Amicus Films Overview page
See more dinosaur films at the Dinosaur films Overview page

The Monster Club (1980) – movie review

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The Monster Club (1980) 

Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Produced by Milton Subotsky
Starring
Vincent Price
Donald Pleasence
John Carradine
Stuart Whitman
Britt Ekland
Patrick Magee

This is often considered the last Amicus Film, however Amicus was dismantled shortly before working on this film. This is also the last film that Milton Subotsky worked on in his career. It is based on short stories by British horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes who is also a main character in the film. Vincent Price plays Eramus, a vampire who attacks the author, R.Chetwynd-Hayes, played by John Carradine. When he realizes he has attacked his favorite author, he offers Chetwynd-Hayes access to a place that will give himthe monster club poster ideas for his next book. He brings him to a club where all the ghouls and creatures of the night gather. At a small table in the corner three stories are revealed. The first story concerns a Shadmock described as a lesser monster who’s only power is his demonic whistle. The Shadmock, Raven, puts out an ad to hire a personal assistant. A young man convinces his girl to take the job just so they can later rob the rich old estate owner blind. At first the young woman is fearful of Raven’s strange, deathly look. But soon it seems the Shadmock and the assistant may be falling in love. As his trust in her grows he reveals the hidden safe showing the riches of the centuries. But will the young woman steal his valuables or stay on as his assistant and let their budding love flourish? Raven puckers his lips but is it for a kiss or to whistle? The second story tells the tale of a young family who lives in a big scary house and the husband/father who ‘works nights’. A few detectives in a van start flowing the young boy and asking him questions. What does your father actually do for a living? Why does he sleep all day in the monster club pic 2the cellar? etc. The detectives finally convince little Jimmy to let them In and lead them to the cellar. They are modern day vampire hunters with wooden stakes and garlic cloves. Can Jimmy’s dad somehow survive a daytime attack? In the final story an impatient movie director, Sam, goes location hunting for his next film and finds a small town inhabited by the Humgoo (ghouls). The ghouls won’t let him leave the town, they want him to stay for dinner. They paw and grab at him like zombies, trying sluggishly to bite him. He takes sanctuary in an abandoned church where they seem reluctant to enter. There he learns the strange history of the tthe monster club pic 11own. All the stories are campy entertainment and there isn’t a moment of anything remotely scary in the whole film. The film is amusing and entertaining, but I wouldn‘t consider it much more than a novelty. Between the story segments there are full 1980’s MTV video style songs played by bands at the club with mixed results. There’s also an interesting stripper dance where the woman takes off more than her clothes. The wrap around story concludes with a social message. The undead creatures make R.Chetwynd-Hayes, an honorary member of the Monster Club, after describing what man does to his fellow man (to a montage of news clips and video) and concluding that man is the biggest monster of all.

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Be sure to view all the Amicus films I have reviewed on Parlor of Horror at this master page: Amicus Films Overview 

City of the Dead (1960), aka: Horror Hotel – movie review

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City of the Dead (1960)

aka: Horror Hotel (US)
Directed by John Moxey

Produced by Seymour S. Dorner, Max Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky, Donald Taylor
Screenplay by George Baxt

Story by Milton Subotsky

Starring:
Venetia Stevenson
Christopher Lee
Dennis Lotis
Betta St. John
Valentine Dyall
Patricia Jessel


Although this film is listed under Vulcan Productions, it was the first film in which Subotsky and Rosenberg worked together and is often considered the first Amicus Film.

The storyline is a bit choppy but not hard to follow. At the behest of her college professor, Driscoll, (Christopher Lee), Nan Barlow, agrees to do an extra assignment to boost her grade. Nan takes a road trip to Whitewood, a town with a history of witchcraft. When she gets there she finds the town barely changed in the past two hundred years. She arrives at night to eerie city-of-the-dead-1960-postersurroundings. The townsfolk are unfriendly and odd. A continuous fog and mist further cloaks the town in mystery. There’s some strange weirdness that adds to the creepy mood, like the hitchhiker ghost. There’s townsfolk that are often standing in the streets, shadowed in darkness, and /or standing completely still.

Iconic visuals such as the gathering of the coven and the back story sequence where they burn the witch Elizabeth Sewyn, further propel my enjoyment of this film. The horrifying sequence when they drag Nan into the depths of a hidden dungeon to sacrifice her at the 13th hour is a bold horror presentation for 1960. And only a half hour into the film our delightful main character, Nan (Venetia Stevenson), is sacrificed in ceremony. After some conflict with Professor Driscoll, Nan’s brother, Richard, and boyfriend, Bill, head to Whitewood to find her. They are joined by city of the dead pic 6Patricia, a Whitewood native who‘s father was a pastor in the town. Because of this format in story telling, (MC missing, loved ones go to find her) CotD is often compared to Psycho. But the similarity stops at that one point because to me they are completely different types of films.

What really makes this film stand out is the wonderful mood and atmosphere portrayed by the stark black & white contrast and fantastic cinematography. When I’m in the right mood, some of the scenes can still creep me out. It succeeds where other films of the same ilk have not with me, such as The Wickerman, The Devil’s Reign, and The Blood On Satan’s Claw. It is films like this that endear me to the b&w image and artistry of yesteryear. I really feel this is an underrated horror film and one of the best witch/satanic themed films ever made.


Amicus Films Overview – a master list of Amicus films reviewed at Parlor of Horror.

The Uncanny (1977) – movie review

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The Uncanny (1977)

Milton Subotsky post Amicus film
The Rank Organisation

directed by Denis Héroux

Peter Cushing
Donald Pleasence
Ray Milland
Joan Greenwood
Donald Pilon
Samantha Eggar


Awesomely creepy music puts you in the mood during the opening credits. In the first scene, Wilbur Gray, (Peter Cushing) looks nervously out his window into the dark alley and shadowed streets. He then leaves his apartment in a rush, carrying a case file. Several felines follow his moves with their eyes and in this short scene feel very ominous.

Gray enters the home of a publisher, Frank Richards (Ray Milland) who has little faith in what he has written. Gray mentions how people believe in alien conspiracies and incidents but with his theory he has proof. The publisher’s cat growls at him, to the-uncanny-movie-poster-1977which he turns to the cat and says, I know everything. He presents case files that would back up his theory that cats are evil and conspiring in tandem to take over the world from humans.

Tale one bloody and gruesome. A Maid and the Nephew of a wealthy old crone attempt to steal the Last Will and Testament that cuts the nephew out of the inheritance and leaves everything to her numerous cats. In the process, the maid winds up killing the wealthy old woman. The cats are not pleased. This turns into the Cujo moment of Catdom. Over a period of many hours the old lady’s cats bludgeon the maid to death. This film was originally given an ‘X’ – rating, presumably because of the violence in this segment.

The second story about a young girl, Lucy, orphaned that goes to her aunt and uncles stately home to live. The aunt is immediately detest over the girl’s cat. An older cousin bullies Lucy and purposely says hurtful things to her about not having parents. She accuses and blames Lucy for things she did not do. It all plays a little like a 1970’s After School Special, but it gets quite nasty in the end. The aunt has a company whisk away the cat while Lucy sleeps but the cat, Wellington, returns. The cat leads Lucy to a the uncanny pic 03book on witchcraft that belonged to her mother. After reading, Lucy tricks her bully older cousin into stepping into a Pentagon she drew in the garden greenhouse. There she reads a spell that shrinks the girl to a size, no bigger than a mouse. That is where Wellington takes over chasing the girl under the bed in some decent miniatures and back-screen effects. The cat chases the cousin out from under the bed and that is where Lucy puts her foot down on the matter of bullying.

The 3rd story is a campy affair featuring actors from the 1930s. It stars Donald Pleasance as Valentine De’ath, a horror actor and a cat hater who replaces a prop in the movie with the real thing, killing his actress wife. Now his dim-witted actress girlfriend, Edina, can take her place. At first she’s amused by the wife’s cat which Valentine calls “Scat”. Valentine sends off Scat’s newborn kittens to a pest control. Scat is not happy. The cat torments the couple in some random slap-stick antics. Meanwhile, the film ‘Dungeons of Terror’ begins re-filming only to find that Edina is a horrible actress. Attempting to coach her on a scene in the torture dungeon Scat leads Valentine to accidentally kill his new leading lady.

It’s a decent anthology in the Amicus tradition. By 1977 these stories were considered ‘old-hat’ and not very popular with the horror watching youth, but as an adult I can appreciate the old style story-telling aspects of the film. I’d say it’s worth seeing just for the violent and bloody first segment, whose gory style has never been repeated in film (not with cats, anyway).

See all my other Amicus Films and related movie reviews here:
Amicus Films – The Studio that Dripped Blood Overview

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The Deadly Bees (1966 – 1967) – Movie review – Amicus Films

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The Deadly Bees (1966)

Amicus Films
Directed by Freddie Francis
Screenplay by Robert Bloch and Anthony Marriott
Based on a book by Gerald Heard, A Taste of Honey

Starring,
Suzanna Leigh
Frank Finlay
Guy Doleman
Michael Ripper

When pop singer, Vicki Robins, has a nervous break-down from the pressures and rigors of touring, she is instructed to take some time off away from the business. Ralph Hargrove, an old friend of the family, welcomes her to stay at his country farm house on a secluded island for rest and relaxation. It’s clear early on that Hargrove has a strained relationship with his wife. He is also a bee farmer and very protective of his hives. When Vicki meets the neighbor, Manfred, she finds that he also has an the deadly bees dvdinfatuation with bees and keeps his own hives very close to his house.

At night, shadowed figures and dark silhouettes criss-cross the field and barn. The next day Vicki wanders into the barn to find a sick horse with many oozing open wounds. When the wife’s dog gets into the husband’s experiment, bees kill the dog. The effects aren’t so great, the bees look like yellow blobs floating around the screen. The wife, distressed about her dog sets the bee hives ablaze. Hargrove comes home just in time to put the fires out and saves one hive from demise. It isn’t long before the bees attack and kill Mrs. Hargrove.

While the investigation into Mrs. Hargrove’s death heats up, the last boat to the island leaves and won’t return for five days. The neighbor, with the help of Vicki captures some of Hargrove’s bees, and explains they are a breed of killer bees. But he has no proof to give police that Hargrove is purposely raising them for evil deeds.

One of my favorite scenes is when Vicki is in the bathroom brushing her teeth with an electric toothbrush. It’s buzzing loudly The Deadly Bees pic 3but when she turns it off, she still hears the buzzing. She turns around and the bedroom is full of killer bees.

The film is more drama/thriller than sci-fi but held my interest with its mystery. At times it has the feel and atmosphere of The Birds, though never gets to that level of intensity. There are some nasty shots of real bees stinging human flesh in close-up, some that made me squirm for sure, but the attacks were short enough to not become torturous. It’s a good old-style thriller with a light sci-to angle, perhaps not for everyone, but I enjoyed it because of its mystery storyline, crisp cinematography and charming character portrayal in Vicki. From what I’ve read Bloch was not happy with the rewrite of the script which he felt made the characters less menacing than his original screenplay and the book.

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Fun Facts:

The band playing in the beginning of the film features Ron Wood (The Rolling Stones) on guitar. He sure looks young.

The lead roles were originally written for Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff, but neither could free up enough time on their schedules to commit to the film.

All of the interior and exterior of the farm were built as a set in a studio

Check out the master list:
Amicus Films Overview
see the many Amicus films I have reviewed thus far!

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) – Amicus Films – movie review

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The Land That Time Forgot (1975)

Directed by Kevin Connor
Based on the story by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Doug McClure
John McEnery
Keith Barron
Susan Penhaligon


Here, I get to continue my task of reviewing Amicus Films, and simultaneously revisiting old and obscure dinosaur movies. From the mind of Edgar Rice Boroughs comes a story set during WWI and encompasses the mystery of the Antarctic, specifically a mythological island, Caprona, and what lies beyond its hostile shoreline. Boroughs pictured an unwelcoming fortress that hides inland secrets, perhaps even the secrets of time itself. I had read some Edgar Rice Burroughs books when I was a young lad but can’t remember a lot of specifics. So I’m not sure if this is a good adaptation, but the high drama and action early in the film certainly reflects good writing.

the land that time forgot - poster

The story begins with a man throwing a bottle with a message in it into the sea. This bottle travels until it eventually reaches a narrator, who then reads the manuscript and sets the story in motion. It begins with the survivors of a destroyed British merchant ship coming upon the surfacing U-Boat that had sunk them. When the Germans open the hatches, the survivors overtake the commander and take over the vessel. The survivors consist of two Americans, Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure), and Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon), a biologist, along with a handful of British crew from the Merchant Ship.

After some cat & mouse battles for control of the sub, Tyler realizes they are lost in Antarctica, low on fuel and supplies. He convinces the German commander, Captain von Schoenvorts that they should work together in order to survive. They come across a legendary island of Caprona and find an underwater cavern streaming warm, fresh water and plant life. Tyler, with the help of the Captian, navigates the sub through the tight twisted caverns in a visually and dramatically intense scene. Coming out the other side they are in a tropical land with lush vegetation and numerous forms of life.

In this hidden land kept warm by volcanic activity, they discover dinosaurs; a Mosasaurus, a Plesiosaur, a Diplodocus, a dicken - land time forgotPterodactyl, two Allosaurus, and two Styracosaurus. There is also a prehistoric amphibian, Ichthyostega. Later in the film a Triceratops and a Ceratosaurus fight a bloody battle. I give the film kudos for using a wide variety of prehistoric animals. They also discover oil and the crew rigs parts from the sub to set up a primitive refinery. They battle cavemen and even befriend one. In the end the German officer, Dietz outsmarts the Brits and leave Tyler and Lisa on the island. However, their getaway is foiled by the erupting volcanic activity and the struggle with the Brits on the vessel.

Special effects in the 1970s were going through a transitional stage. Puppetry and animatronics became more cost effective and feasible than stop-motion and made it possible for actors to interact with monsters in real time. The puppettronics and special effects in The Land that Time Forgot range from decent to very puppet-looking to funky rubber appendages being thrust into the actor’s faces. Most of the dinosaur work was done by FX-man, Roger Dicken animating his rod puppets in scale jungle scenes. Despite the drawbacks, I still enjoy the dinosaur interpretations in the film. In some scenes you can see the carnivorous dinosaurs drool. Animatronics and robotics would take over special FX in the next few years with award winning creature designs such as Alien. However, they could never get Dinosaurs exactly right; not until they were able to combine it with CGI some 25 years later in Jurassic Park. To me it’s interesting to see the early evolution of these mechanical FX techniques.

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Fun Facts

Roger Dicken also worked on Alien, The Creeping Flesh, The Blood Beast Terror, Thunderbirds Are Go, Warlords of Atlantis and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.

The Land That Time Forgot was remade in 2009 with CGI dinos and with little similarities to the book. Produced by Asylum Pictures.

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See more Amicus Films reviews at the Amicus Films Overview page

See more Dinosaur Movies reviews at the Dinosaur Films Overview page

Creepshow (1982) – movie review

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Creepshow (1982)

Directed by George Romero
Written by Stephen King
Effects by Tom Savini

Hal Holbrookmy top 10 1980s horror
Adrienne Barbeau
Fritz Weaver
Leslie Nielsen
Ted Danson
E. G. Marshall
Viveca Lindfors


Creepshow picked up where Amicus Films had left off, honoring the 1950’s horror comics in an anthology format film. Though Creepshow wasn’t a particular horror comic from the past, they did a splendid job at portraying it as such. It opens with a young boy who likes to read horror comics being berated by his father, who takes his latest comic and throws it in the garbage. The cover opens and we are treated to the stories held within its pages. There is some wonderful animation in the beginning titles and at the end of the film, and the comic book style is weaved throughout the film as live action frames turn to comic art frames and visa-versa. There are some comic style narration titles and during certain scenes, the creepshow dvdposterbackgrounds turn colorful, as they would in frames in the pages of the comics. These are some wonderful aspects of the film and added with the tongue-in-cheek, dark humor, the film is genuinely original in its creativity. We are treated to 5 stories here and they are fun horror stories which I think stand the test of time.

Father’s Day
Viveca Lindfors plays a wonderful part in this segment as Bedilia, the great aunt who murdered her nasty old miser Father with a heavy stone ashtray from the mantle. Now it’s many years later and the family is getting together on Father’s Day to celebrate what the old patriarch had left them. However, this year their dead uncle is going to want something from them…his cake. I can only tell you that the question, “Where’s My Cake?!” became a quote used often in my household on any birthday or celebration.

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill
Stephen King himself plays Jordy, a backwoods, country bumpkin who finds a meteor crashed on his property. When he touches it, he becomes infected with “Meteor shit” which springs up into a grassy fungus. The dopey character makes a dozen wrong decisions and actions, the biggest being, jumping in the tub to relieve the itching of a plant. Guess what plants like? Water!

Something to Tide You Over
Leslie Neilson plays a wickedly awful character in this short which finds, Richard, a wealthy businessman, finding out about his cheating wife and her lover while at his beach house. He tricks them, at separate times, into getting buried up to their necks in the sand. He’s not going to cover them over, he’s just going to let the tide come in. Drowning is one of my least preferred ways to die if I had to pick one. This film does a splendid job at creepshow pic 15portraying how nasty and awful it is. Moments before the big wave is about to wash over Harry (Ted Danson) he turns to the closed circuit camera and promises revenge. Later that evening, Richard is confronted by Harry and Becky, now water zombies, in some creepy scenes. The water zombies are brought to life (death?) with excellent make-up effects.

The Crate
Henry (Holbrook), a college professor is constantly berated by his miserable and often drunk wife, Billie (Barbeau). When another professor tells him about the discovery of a Crate from the early 1900’s in the college stairwell, He finds it appropriate to get his wife to come along for a visit. Now if only the hibernating beast inside will wake for another feast on human flesh. It has a voracious appetite. This is probably everyone’s favorite story from the film. The beast creation by Tom Savini is an excellent example of old school practical effects.

They’re Creeping Up on You!
This segment with E.G. Marshall will surely give you the creeps as it was filmed with millions of live cockroaches. A germ-a-phobic, living in his germ-free penthouse is overrun by these pests and engages in a battle he can’t win.

I will also have to mention the perfect moody soundtrack music comprised of Moog Synthesizer sounds and piano melodies by John Harrison. Harrison also did music for Day of the Dead and Tales From the Dark Side TV show (for which he also directed some episodes). Don’t forget to look for a Tom Savini cameo as one of the garbage men that find the Creepshow Comic book at the end of the film. Creepshow is a wonderfully made film with great stories, perfect for Halloween viewing!

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Fun Facts:
Creepshow 2 is almost as good as this one so I‘d recommend it. 

but Creepshow 3 left a lot to be desired – not recommended.

They would later release a Creepshow comic book series with stories from the films.